I do understand the eagerness in you for jumping to the part of the article explaining the posture and technique for doing plank jacks with resistance bands.
But wait! There is something you are missing for sure.
If you don’t understand the muscles and their recruitment by the brain while performing plank jacks, you can’t be loyal to the technique and posture that I would be explaining in a while.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN –
Here, I would explain to you the plank exercise through the muscles that work harder just beneath the skin. Once you understand the classic plank, we can move on to the plank jacks with workout bands.
It shall be much easier to understand the nuisance of banded plank jacks once you know the basics.
How do I correctly perform plank jacks with resistance bands? The plank jack is an advanced version of the traditional plank. Lie straight on the floor with hands placed just below the shoulders while wearing a mini loop band/booty band around the ankles. Contract the quadriceps, hip flexors, and abdominal muscles to raise the body above the ground. Now, move the legs outwards as far as possible while maintaining the posture while breathing out. Bring the feet back in their original position. This is one repetition of plank jack.
There are several other variations of plank jacks and other variables to be taken care of. Follow with me as I unfold the story behind the plank jacks.
❝ Hi, I am Ravi, your companion and a passionate fitness athlete, cyclist, runner, gym enthusiast who just loves the concept of resistance bands for their extreme flexibility. I have been using resistance bands as one of my primary fitness equipment for the last many years ❞
Let us begin –
So, what is so magical about classic planks?
Plank is the face of bodyweight exercises, which always tops the list of the compound exercises.
Further, the plank exercise comes in numerous variations, and plank jacks or plank side steps is one such variation out of many others.
Let us understand the muscles that make you stay in the classic plank position. It shall assist you in boarding to the plank jacks.
Muscles activated during classic planks.
Muscles are all over the place surrounding the skeleton. Every muscle act vigorously to let you take positions for several exercises.
During a classic plank position, here are muscles that work the most.
a) Abdominal Muscles –
The abdominal muscles are the apparent reason we do the plank hold. Well, there are two types of abdominal muscles which are employed during the plank.
I) Transverse Abdominis –
These muscles surround the outer wall of the abdomen from both sides of the stomach. When we look at the stomach from the front side, they are the deepest muscles around the belly.
II) Rectus Abdominis –
These muscles are long muscles that don’t surround the entire abdomen like transverse abdominis muscles. They originate from the lower side of the ribs and end at the hip bone/pelvis.
b) Hip Flexors –
The hip flexors are the muscles that connect the lower spine (lumbar spine) and the hip bone to the thigh bone. The hip flexors are scientifically named as iliacus muscles.
c) Rectus Femoris muscle –
The above muscle is one out of the four quadriceps muscles on the front side of the thigh. It is also the only muscle out of the four quadricep muscles which connect to the hip bone on one side. On the other hand, all four quadriceps muscles attach to the lower leg bone named tibia.
➤ The muscle count doesn’t end here; there are other muscles like pectoralis major (chest muscles), serratus anterior muscles (connected between the shoulder blades and the rib cage) along with the erector spinae ( muscles that run on the back along the length of the spine).
These muscles work as stabilizing muscles to maintain the body in its position against gravity.
How the above muscles behave during a classic plank?
During a plank hold, the only challenge is to keep the body in a straight line from head to toe.
Here the chain of sequences that happen during a classic plank –
- The quadriceps muscles, i.e., rectus femoris ( front thigh muscles), contract and pulls on the pelvis (hip) to keep the thighs above the ground.
- However, the hip/butt refuses to come off the ground. The hip flexors (which are connecting the hip bone and lower spine to the thigh bone(femur)) contracts and tries to lift the hip from the ground.
- The abdominal area is still struggling with the form. Here come the abdominal muscles. At first, transverse abdominis muscles enveloping the abdomen contracts to squeeze the stomach towards the spine.
- Now the chest area needs to be lifted off the ground. Here, rectus abdominal muscles come in action and pull on the rib cage towards the hip.
All other chests, shoulder, and back muscles also contract isometrically (without a change in length) to stabilize shoulders, neck, and other body parts.
How different is plank jack from the classic planks when it comes to muscles, we just discussed?
Thanks to all of you for reaching this far. This section is most relevant for readers who have come to explore the dynamics of the plank jacks.
The plank jack is an upgraded version of the classic plank hold, which is aimed at making the planks harder.
Here the legs move from their place in contrast to the conventional planks, similar to the lower body movements in the jumping jack exercise.
There are two extra pairs of muscles employed by the body in addition to the muscles I just described in previous paragraphs for traditional planks.
Internal and external Muscles –
There are two kinds of oblique muscles in our body, namely – External oblique and Internal oblique. Both muscle groups get activated in addition to the other muscles of the traditional planks. The oblique muscles originate from the different areas of the rib cage and terminate over the pelvis (hip).
? NOTE –
The people who are still struggling to hold themselves in the plank position for 60 seconds, at least, should not go for plank jacks.
The plank jacks put additional pressure over the hip joint and spinal areas. For beginners, advancing to the plank side steps (due to comparatively weak abdominal muscles), there is increased risk for the curving of the spine towards the ground during the plank hold.
Step by step instructions for doing plank jacks with resistance bands –
There are also some other variations that I shall be discussing just after we learn the right technique for plank jacks.
Here are the step by step instructions for doing a classic plank jack –
- Wear a mini loop band around the ankles. You can find the affordable resistance bands here at our store – Unique Addict.
- Lie down straight on the floor with hands placed just below the shoulders.
- Raise the body with toes by pressing hands against the floor.
- Focus on keeping the abdominal muscles tight, and hip flexors contracted to flex (rotate) the hip joint while lifting the body.
- Always ensure that the spine is straight/neutral in the plank position. Lowering/sagging the back during planks is a critical sign of weakness of abdominal muscles or lack of awareness/practice.
- It is ok to lift the spine beyond the horizontal line crossing head, butts and heels than sagging towards the floor, to avoid injuries.
- Now, move both feet away from the centerline in one go with jumping action. Focus on keeping the middle area of the hip and abdomen tight and contracted.
- Bring the feet back to their original position.
- Repeat the above steps for 15 to 20 repetitions.
- Do 3 to 4 sets of the above exercise.
Other variations of plank jacks with resistance bands –
The plank jacks not only work on strengthening the hip flexors, abdominal muscles, and quadriceps but also provides a decent cardio workout for raising the calorie count.
Here are some of the variations of plank jacks with resistance bands for beginners as well as advanced athletes –
a) Slow plank jacks with resistance bands without jump-
The people who are new to the plank jacks may find it difficult to maintain posture during dynamic movements of the lower body while holding the upper body in place.
Why not slow down the flow of feet! Instead of moving both feet together from the centerline. Move the feet one after another without keeping the lower body in the air at any time.
b) Plank Jack with mini loop band around the thighs –
Here, the only change we have done is; shift the hip circle band from ankles to the thighs. Due to the lower range of motion of thighs in comparison to the ankles, the booty bands are stretched to a lower level resulting in lower resistance to oppose during the exercise.
c) Banded Plank Jacks with extended arms –
This version of banded plank jacks is for the advanced athletes who just need more resistance to provide extra burn to their core muscles.
Simply extend the arms at the elbow joint and place hands over the ground instead of the elbow. Wear the mini loop band as in earlier cases.
The addition of elbow joint in the closed kinetic chain of the plank jacks, adds yet another muscle group to the large groups of muscles already engaged for plank jacks.
d) Reverse Plank Jacks with mini loop bands –
Here, our face looks towards the ceiling instead of the ground, while everything else remains the same as an ordinary plank jack.
Reverse plank jack makes this position harder to hold. Here, the gluteus maximus (large hip muscles on the back of the hip) along with hamstrings ( muscles on the back of thigh) are also teamed up with the muscles already engaged for doing banded plank jacks.
➤ This workout is strictly meant for advanced athletes only.
e) Plank Jack with tube resistance bands or power loop bands –
In previous cases, I had been explaining the plank jacks with mini loop bands. Here, we use a cylindrical tube resistance band or power loop band, which is not wrapped around the legs.
Simply tie the tube resistance band between immovable objects like the two ends of the exercise rack or between the two tables/sofas in the home premises.
Then, simply slip under the resistance band in such a way that the band is passing through the middle back. Ensure that the band is tight enough even when you are lying flat on the floor.
➤ You can further add a mini loop band around the ankle to make this work out super hard to execute.
Similar Exercises with resistance bands –
Here are some of the other resistance band exercises I explained similarly.
If you liked the above article and depth I provided for the plank jacks, do visit these demonstrations for similar insights –
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